HP wants you to reach out and touch your desktop PC

Looking to change the way people interact with their desktop PCs, HP (NYSE: HPQ) has launched the IQ504 and the IQ506, the second generation of the vendor’s TouchSmart series of all-in-one PCs that bring touch screen capabilities to the desktop.

Targeted primarily at the home consumer market and suited for people interested in photos, videos and music, both models feature a 22” diagonal, high-definition widescreen display and are based on Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor. The mobile processor was used because of the small form factor of the PC, but also as a side benefit also uses 45 per cent less power than a comparable desktop model with separate tower and display.

In this second generation its TouchSmart family, HP has paid a lot more attention to design and ease of use says Kate Smith, category business manager for consumer desktops and storage with HP Canada. While the first generation was a little bulkier and had a 19” display, she says the new offerings are more sleek and compact, with a redesigned form factor, larger display, and an attractive piano black. She adds a model with a 25.5” display will be shipping in October.

“(The all-in-one form factor) is space saving,” said Smith. “You can fit it on the desk easily or put it in locations you can’t put other computers that are more accessible to the family.”

And another a key differentiator of course, says Smith, is the touch screen capability.

“This is something that’s really new for the desktop space,” said Smith. “We don’t have a lot of other competitors in the desktop space (in touch).”

The PC ships with HP’s own TouchSmart software to help users leverage the touch screen functionality and allow for a friendlier user interface. The software enables a more interactive experience for playing videos and music and viewing photos.

Not many traditional software developers have added functionality to specifically leverage touch screen technology. While that will come in time, Smith says today anything you can do with a mouse you can do with your finger on the screen, and besides the touch screen capability the TouchSmart PCs offer all the functionality of a regular PC.

“It makes it very interactive,” said Smith. “Instead of doing traditional photo editing with the mouse, can do it with your finger…it feels like you’re maybe having a little more fun.”

With a touch screen display and lots of dirty fingers likely lurking in the average household, Smith says special attention was paid to smudging during the design process.

“Our engineering team worked very hard making sure the design was able to take the day in, day out of touching the computer and being able to touch it every day,” said Smith, adding the PC also ships with a cleaning cloth.

The unit features an ambient light capability under the display that can be used to light the keyboard in dim light or low light situations, and can also be used for background or mood lighting.

Both models ship with a wireless keyboard and mouse, feature a DVD burner and integrated webcam and mouse, and run Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition. The IQ504 runs the Intel Core2 Duo Processor T5750 with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive, retailing for $1399. For $1599, the IQ506 adds a TV tuner, upgrades the processor to an Intel Core2 Duo Processor T5850, and boasts a 500GB hard drive.

Both models are available now through the HP channel, and retail partners such as Best Buy, Office Depot and London Drugs.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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